I’m Not Sure I Can Watch This

Sen. Lamar Alexander is delivering the Republicans’ opening remarks, and I already want to hurl big, heavy objects at the TeeVee screen. Here are his basic themes:

  • What’s really important is controlling cost.
  • The Democratic bill cost too much.
  • The People have said they don’t like the Democratic bill, so the Dems should scrap it.
  • Reconciliation is bad.
  • Beware of the “tyranny of the majority,” which I take it means that the party that the people elected into the majority in Congress should not be allowed to pass bills.

Update: The lies are beginning already, and I turned off the TeeVee because, frankly, I’ve got work to do and I won’t get it done if I’ve got that nonsense droning on in front of me.

Lamar Alexander said in his opening remarks that the Congressional Budget Office had said the Democratic plan would raise premiums. I believe I know what he’s talking about. Some versions of the bills (notably without the public option) would cause some individual insurance premiums to go up, mostly because the insurance industry would no longer be able to sell junk policies to individuals but would have to sell them policies that actually cover their health care needs. So in some states individual policies would become more expensive, but they would also be real insurance policies and not ripoffs.

However (as I remember) the same CBO analysis said that the same plan would cause the cost of employee-benefit insurance to go down a bit.

Update: Daily Kos is liveblogging. See also the TPM Health Care Summit Wire.

16 thoughts on “I’m Not Sure I Can Watch This

  1. I just don’t see how this will work without a public option. That would be the only thing that I can see that would hold insurance companies back from raising their rates to the sky when everyone is required to have insurance. My hope is wavering…..

    • That would be the only thing that I can see that would hold insurance companies back from raising their rates to the sky when everyone is required to have insurance.

      My understanding is that there are other provisions to control that in the proposed bill, but I can’t say I’ve had time to read it exhaustively.

  2. The CBO finding was that the aggregate cost of premiums would go down, but at the margins access to subsidies would lead to some people buying more comprehensive plans. Which is to say, the cost will go down, and some people will buy more. I’m not aware of any CBO scoring of either the final House or Senate bill that estimates premium increases of any kind.

  3. Exactly the same here except for sat radio in another room which I can hear if I pay attention. The only slight difference may be in my reaction to Harry Reid’s offering which seemed incredibly petulant, a definite minus on the Democratic side.

    What’s needed here, also, is top level person from the CBO to explain in words of one syllable why one side or the other (Alexander, Obama) is right and the other wrong. With no non-partisan fact checking, the Republicans can continue to hammer away with lies — lies which are persuasive to the undecided.

    I’m going to check out Bill Adair’s PolitiFact and see if he’s doing a check — not that that would affect how baggers (for example) think.

    Nope. Neither Media Matters nor Politifact is running a fact-check at this writing. The RNC site (!) says it is, but I can’t find it.

  4. “My understanding is that there are other provisions to control that in the proposed bill”

    The exchange administrators have to approve rate-hikes, and can bar non-compliant insurers from the exchanges altogether.

  5. I cant’ watch because this is all Bull. A fantastic, that is craptastic, show for the masses. In my opinion the Dems don’t want true HCR anymore than the GOP and we’re fooling ourselves about it all. If the Dem leadership wanted a public option, they’d exercise the real nuclear option — NO EARMARKS! Nancy and Harry could use every procedural option known and Obama could use the veto. Absolutely no earmarks for either party until real HCR passes.
    Now that would be fighting for HCR, and we all know that would be a very short fight because it is all about the money in Congress. I’d give the GOP at most two weeks to roll over on HCR in order to get their true constituents back on the gravy train.
    So seriously, this is all BS.

  6. I caught 30 seconds of right-wing talk radio this morning, in our HR Director’s office where such noise is on all day. “This isn’t good faith negotiation! This is political theater, pure and simple!!!” (Sorry, my Caps Lock key’s broken.)

    I thought: Zheesh, Party o’ NO, see yourselves in the mirror much? I hope they look as stupid on teevee as their ho’s sound on the radio today.

  7. PS:
    For me like many Americans, this isn’t a joke. We opted to pay our mortgage over health care nearly 10 years ago. As members of the new middle class, we couldn’t afford both. My wife has suffered from mental illness her whole life, but now aged 50 with the onset of menopause it’s absolutely crushing — debilitating to the point of my describing her as “not even human” to doctors.
    She has fits of OCD where she crys out “I’m stuck again, please help me”. Of course an extreme studder makes that whole sentence take painfully long to complete. And there’s my wife, a beautiful 50 year old woman, at the kitchen sink fully aware that she’s been washing but one cup going on maybe 10 minutes, and like a record that keeps skipping she can’t stop. As I look on in horror I think, but if I weren’t here would she continue this until morning?
    Of late we have ER bills, gyno bills, psch bils, primary care bills, lab bills, all kinds of bills that I can hardly pay. Do we really need another story of someone losing their home because of health care bills. How many millions of Americans will it take? Our life is a daily, scarry, struggle. I can’t imagine what it’s like to loose the fight; work hard every day and still go under.

    WTF happend to this country? Serioulsy WTF happend?

  8. I have created a plan to get the public option installed piecemeal (hopefully, the reform will take place, then we can work on the other). I think it is a brilliant plan I devised in the shower, maybe someone agrees:

    So, you probably know that poor people who get pregnant can go on Medicaid for the duration and up to 60 days postpartum (in Colorado), plus their kids have Medicaid coverage until 18. You must earn (133% ?) poverty level income and have no assets.

    I earn about $35K per year and own (pay on) a house and a business (which pays me the $35K), so I wouldn’t qualify to deliver my child with Medicaid. My insurance won’t cover maternity. So if I were to get pregnant (at 45 highly unlikely) I could lose my house and/or business to carry the kid to term.

    Here’s where I thought: can we pass a bill that covers all pregnant people with Medicaid IF THEY CHOOSE IT, without losing their house? If their insurance or wealth is good, then they don’t have to sign up (or for privacy issues). Why this issue? Because it would cut down on abortions and be good for the “family” so the Republicans couldn’t oppose it.

    Once you get that through, you can start working on more reproductive health issues (hard for Repugs to be against), and then on to diabetes…You see where I’m going with this?

    We’d pay for it (so many people do this Medicaid thing in Colorado, I don’t think it would be a huge increase in cost) by taxing junk food. After all, don’t poor people eat more junk food than rich people, so they’d be funding their own health care? Start with sodas, then work up.

    Or you can raise payroll taxes a bit for each disease or health issue you start to fund.

    What do you think?

  9. Hi Mahablog people. I’ve vaguely listened to this online all day so far. To attempt a positive note – the Dems and Repubs have each identified and described the problems of the system. The pity is the solutions are all about re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic and not about changing the fact the ship is sinking. The Republicans are obviously blinded by dogma and refuse to say a bad word about the “free market.” Meanwhile, the Democrats are trying to meet them half way with some institutional improvements to the insurance system when Republicans aren’t willing to go anywhere.

    The only real positive thing so far has been the President. He has sounded like an adult willing to call out the Republicans on talking points and trying to force them to make an actual constructive proposal. At the end of the day I think the Republicans realize its easier to destruct than constructively propose something. We all lose with this bunch of losers.

  10. Maha, I knew before I started that I couldn’t watch this stuff anymore…but you not wanting to watch it makes me shudder! Okay, watch out folks, I’m about to say something good about the state of Louisiana…whoa: In reponse to ITdog9:

    I have chronic mental health problems which have always been manageable until my forced retirement due to the economy in Hawaii back in 2000. I think that this stuff gets worse as we age also, I’m 64. The mental health system, though their initial admittance procedure is a pain…once in, they will take care and should be on a sliding fee scale. They also have their own pharmacy and dispense meds to those who cannot afford it. Since it took 5 years for me to get my ss disability benefits, that was and is a big plus in my life. The only change has been to my having Medicare now and the prescription plan takes care of the meds and I do the co-pays. Having worked in Mental Health for many years, I know these are federally funded and the pharmas have programs to help. Okay, that was my one good thing to say about the state of Louisiana.

    And, while I am here, what is 133% of FPL? How can anyone be anything more than 100% of anything? I was a great therapist people, but lousy in math…I just though that 100% was as high or low as you could go.

    Jennifer, I love your solutions, keep on thinking in the shower and writing it down, we may have to run you in 2012!!


  11. The problem with Jennifer’s proposal is this:

    “Why this issue? Because it would cut down on abortions and be good for the “family” so the Republicans couldn’t oppose it.”

    Of course the Republicans could and would oppose it. The current HCR bills contain a great multitude of explicitly republican ideas, and still they oppose it.


  12. FWIW, I saw two hours of this in the Honda dealer’s waiting room this morning. I was taken aback at the way MSNBC consistently cut away during Democratic speakers only. It was quite blatant how, during Democratic speakers, they cut from their coverage to show two talking heads being introduced by two other talking heads. And one of the talkers was Armstrong Williams! Wasn’t he the fellow who took $$$$ to push NCLB in his radio/newspaper show? Yes! Wikipedia confirms. Just what is his expertise supposed to be on health care?

    What I saw on CNN had the same thing going on with cutting away from Democrats. Are these people ever held to account?

    I have to praise President Obama for his mastery in handling the R’s. He just out-facted them. And when Nancy Pelosi dared to tell Orange Bohner that he was factually wrong on abortion funding, I just about cheered. Orange John was left sitting with egg on his face, but there was no commentary about it that I heard.

    If the Republicans are dumb enough to get in a room with the President again, I will be amazed. I thought the whole thing pointed out how dishonest they are, but I am sure people who have failed to follow the issue saw it differently and thought that the Democrats were being hard on the Republicans. Did it do any good? It was a chance for something good to happen, but it seemed doomed from the get-go. They had their chance. I still want single-payer.

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